The year 1996 was marked by the first mass forced displacements and attacks against human rights defenders, as well as the forced disappearance of lawyers, causing high levels of fear.
The José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (Colectivo de Abogados y Abogadas José Alvear Restrepo – CCAJAR) is an exemplary human rights defender organisation, whose members are lawyers who defend victims of the armed conflict and who have reported on many occasions the State’s role in socio-political violence and conflict-related human rights violations. Because of their work they have received many threats and attacks, leading to the exile of several of the organisation’s members. As Alirio Uribe tells us in this video: “we defended the rights of others, but we also had to defend our own rights because we had been declared to be enemies of the State”.
The organisation was founded more than 40 years ago, and in that time the lawyers from CCAJAR have defended and advised vulnerable populations, victims of massacres, small-scale farming communities, indigenous peoples and Afro-descendant communities, among others. They have three strategic strands of work: 1) peace building with social justice, 2) the struggle against impunity, 3) climate change and the defence of territory.
**Video realized by Javier Bauluz and produced thanks to the support the International Cooperation Agency of Extremadura for the Development (AEXCID)